Fun At Work…

June 5th, 2017 No comments

After having worked for software companies for over 25 years, I’ve seen it all.  In that time I’ve also come across some hilariously funny videos that allow us to take a few minutes away from the pressures of our day and laugh at ourselves and the situations we often encounter.  Here are my top 5:

1. The Expert

I’ll start with my all time favorite.  As a solution engineer we are often brought in to “be the expert”.  We are the one person who can help the customer see how we can help solve their current challenges and the sales team is relying on us… but every once in a while, the conversation can get a little awkward like it did for this expert:

2. A Conference Call in Real Life

Everyone’s experienced the joys of a conference call.  This parody taps into every annoyance that we all experience, many of us every day.  This sketch was developed by the comedy team Tripp & Tyler and highlights a number of hilarious ways in which traditional conference calls can let us down:

More laughter-inducing sketches from the “in Real Life” series are available here.

3.  My Blackberry Is Not Working

If you are in any type of technology career, you probably have parents or family members who come to you for help in sorting out their computer issues.  Here is a bit by the classic BBC legendsRonnie Corbett and Harry Enfield.  Ronnie visits the local grocer for help with his Blackberry.  This hilarious sketch does a great job of highlighting all the ordinary words that have taken on new meaning in our modern world.  See how many you can count:

4. Stuff Business People Say

Business jargon is everywhere.  Here is another Tripp & Tyler video which contains an entertaining look at common phrases that we hear in the office everyday… so here’s the 30,000 ft view; this value-added video may leave you in stitches and don’t forget to loop in your friends:

5.  It’s Not About The Nail

Okay… so my last video is not strictly a work video, but I wanted to include it because so much of life and work is about relationships and communication and this video hits the nail on the head.  Just watch (and “listen”), and you’ll know what I mean:


Sometimes it’s just good to take a break, sit back and have a good laugh… and we certainly like to do that at SAP.  Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”   I agree.  Don’t keep your favorite funny videos to yourself.  Share them with your friends because laughter releases ‘feel good’ hormones that promote social bonding… and besides…  life’s too short to be stressed.

Bert & John Jacobs, co-founders of Life is Good, have figured that out.  If you’d like a video that provides some real inspiration, listen to what these two had to say at Sapphire this year.

Feel free to submit your suggestions for your favorite videos in the comments below.

Have a great week!

«Good BI»

Categories: Miscellaneous Tags:

Embracing the Cloud for Analytics – Part 3

May 19th, 2017 No comments

In the first two blogs we were introduced to SAP Leonardo with:

Now we want to connect our data to the SAP Analytics Cloud (aka BusinessObjects Cloud).  We will do this in four key steps:

  1. Sign up for our SAP Analytics Cloud Trial Account
  2. Make our data accessible
  3. Connect to Our data
  4. Create a Story within the SAP Analytics Cloud

The SAP sales team has been running a number of HANA DBaaS Academies in which they can come onsite and walk your team through these steps so that by the end of the day your team will have hands-on experience with loading data into the SAP Cloud Platform and visualizing that data with the SAP Analytics Cloud.  If you are interested in this for your team, you should reach out to your SAP sales rep.

SAP Analytics Cloud Trial Account

As with the SAP Cloud Platform, SAP is keen to have people try out their SAP Analytics Cloud capabilities and provide feedback.  Already the Analytics Clouds have received a number of wave updates.  As of the writing of this blog new capabilities are still being released every two weeks.  If you are interested in reading about the latest capabilities, Carmen Choy has an excellent series of blog posts.

To sign up for your free SAP Analytics Cloud 30-day trial and in less than a minute you will have a trial account configured.  All you need to do is go to their trial website and put in your email address.  That’s it.

You will notice here that some of the branding still says SAP BusinessObjects Cloud below.  Although the announcement of the name change from SAP BusinessObjects Cloud to SAP Analytics Cloud has been announced, not all of the internal systems have fully made the switch.  As time goes on you should expect this branding to be updated to SAP Analytics Cloud.

After you put in your email address you will see two quick screens

After putting in my email address… SAP running SIMPLE

… and then..

An Email Gets Generated

… done.  That’s what you call Software As a Service!

In your Inbox you will get an email telling you to activate your count.  The 30-day countdown starts as soon as you begin the activation.  I wish they would limit the trial a different way rather than by a time limit, but for now that’s all we get.  Fortunately by owning my own domain name I have access to unlimited email addresses.  🙂

This is what the activation will look like

Go ahead and click on the URL and activate your account.  The URL will take you to a login page

All you need to do is provide a password, the other fields are read-only

Once you click save, the system should return with the following message.

Message Once Activation is Complete

Now that we have our account activated let’s return to HANA and get our data ready.  We need to make our data accessible to the SAP Analytics Cloud be exposing it as a HANA Calculation View, so let’s do that now.

Make The Data Accessible

This next step can be done by either the WebIDE or the Eclipse client.  Since showed you how to configure the Eclipse client earlier we will use that.

Before you begin this step, confirm that you SAP HANA database is running by logging into your SAP Cloud Platform and verifying the status.  If necessary start the database.  (Remember to refresh the screen since the screen does not refresh automatically.)

We want to create a Calculation View.  The Calculation View is exposed
through the _SYS_BIC directory and therefore is accessible to external
BI tools.  In our case we are going to create a Package and call it demo.

Right click on the Schema and choose New Package from the menu.

Right-Click and Create New Package

Next, provide the package a name, e.g. demo

Name the Package

After naming the package we want to create a New Calculation View.  We do this by right-clicking on the package and selecting Calculation View… from the menu.

Right-Click Create New Calculation View

If you are unfamiliar with how to create calculation views,
you might wish to review to this helpful video.  Although
the terminology is changing and SAP no longer differentiates
between Analytics Views and Calculation Views, it is still help
to watch how a Calculation view is created.

I will assume you are using the dataset from my previous blog, so let’s create a calculation view called, CV_INSURANCESALES.  We want this Calculation View to be a standard cube, so we can accept the default settings.

Enter a name and label (Description)

First, drag the table Insurance directly into the Aggregation box since we don’t need to join it to any other tables.

Drag the SYSTEM.Insurance Table into the Aggregation

This is what you should see:

All Available Columns will appear

Next, in the area labeled Details, select the columns you wish to expose as dimensions.  You can multi-select them by holding down the ctrl key and clicking on each one.  Once you are complete, right click and choose Add to Output.

Add the Dimensions To Output

Next, select the columns you wish to expose as measures. Highlight them and then right click and choose Add to Aggregated Output.   By default all our dimensions aggregate as SUM, so no further changes are required.

Select the Measures and right-click Add As Aggregate Output

Now all our dimensions and measures should appear in the right panel.

The Dimensions and Measures Now Appear in the Output

We are almost done.  The next step is to click on the Semantics Box .  The contextual Details area will change accordingly.  As a last step demo in the design of the model, we need to select each of the dimensions and categorize it as a dimension.

Click on the Semantics box and to see the exposed data elements

Highlight each of the Dimensions (all the items without an orange ‘measure’ icon in the leftmost column), and click on the very small blue square in the menu bar.

Select the Dimensions and click the blue square

Now the final step is the Save and Activate our model.  This will validate the model and activate it so that it becomes part of the _SYS_BIC schema within HANA.  To activate your model, click on the dark green circle in the top right menu.

Click on the button or choose the value from the drop down

As the model runs, you should see the log files update below.

After click Save & Activate, you will see the Job Log update below


Once you see the message Completed successfully, you are ready to consume this model from with SAP Analytics Cloud.

If you are interested in watching a similar exercise in video form, check out this youtube video.

Connect To Your Data

Let’s log into our SAP Analytics Cloud environment.  You may notice from to time a delay in the time it takes from when you click on something to the time you see the screen update. I have noticed that SAP Analytics Cloud isn’t the best at telling you when “it’s working”, so if in doubt give it some time to paint the screen – especially when it’s doing something for the first time.  If you are using a trial account, it’s hard to know what the URL will be that you have been assigned.  In my case I was assigned a trial account on a tenant named:, so my URL will be.

Based on the rebranding of SAP BusinessObjects Cloud to
SAP Analytics Cloud, the base URL made change.

This is the URL that you will want to bookmark, not the URL that asks for your username and password.  The authentication process is handled by a separate identity server that is not necessarily running within the same namespace as your SAP Analytics Cloud account.

Once you have logged in with your username (email) and password, you should see the following welcome screen:

SAP Analytics Cloud Welcome Screen

By default your account will be loaded with a sample set of data and content.  Feel free to review these stories and get familiar with the SAP Analytics Cloud navigation.  The first thing we need to do is to use SAP Analytics Cloud to create a connection to our HANA data running within the SAP Cloud Platform.  This is very easy to do.  Simply select Create Connection from the menu:

Create a Connection to a Data Source

From here we will decide which type of connect we want to create.  Today there are “Live Connections” available for both HANA and SuccessFactors and many more will be added in the future.  However if you want additional live connectivity today, I would recommend you check out SAP’s partner APOS provides live connectivity to other data sources such as Microsoft SQL Server, etc. with it’s Data Gateway for SAP Analytics Cloud.

On the right hand side you will see a (+) plus button.  Click this to add a new HANA Connection.

Create Live Data Connection to HANA

Next you’ll get a pop-up screen and be asked to fill in the relevant details:

Completing the Live Connect Information

Continue to scroll down:

  • SAP CP Account – Enter your account name.  If it is a trial account then you will include the “trial” at the end of the name.  (We went over this in more detail when we showed setting up the HANA account in this earlier blog.
  • Database Name – This is the name of your HANA database within your SAP Cloud Platform environment.
  • Landscape Host – If you are using a Trial account then it will be Trial, otherwise you need to pick the correct data center.
  • User Name – This is the username for your HANA database within the SAP Cloud Platform environment.
  • Password – This is the password for your HANA database within the SAP Cloud Platform environment.

… so fill out the bottom section as well.:

Completing the Live Connect Information

Once you click okay, the connection will validate what you’ve filled in by connecting to the HANA database.  If you are prompted again for a username and password in a pop-up window, either your HANA database is not currently running or you are using the incorrect user name and password.

This Live Connection is now added to our landscape:

List of all current connections

Next we want to connect to our CV_INSURANCESALES view within the SAP Cloud Platform.  To do this we need to create a model.  Choose Create Model from the menu:

Navigate to Create > Model

From this menu we will select the live data source:

Select a datasource and choose Live data connection.

and then choose the data source from our HANA database in the SAP Cloud Platform.

Select CV_INSURANCESALES as our Model

You will also want to name your model.  In my case I used the name Insurance.  Once you click OK, the system will open up in the Modeler view with the list of measures.  This may appear confusing if you’ve not seen it before.  Because the SAP Analytics Cloud has a Budgeting & Planning framework at it’s core, within a mandatory “Accounts” dimension is where the measures are stored.  (This allows for versions of measures which is critical for Budget & Planning scenarios.)

If you want to change some of the measure descriptions or aggregation methods you can do it here by updating the values directly in the grid.  Once any changes you want to make are complete, click the Save icon on the menu.

Edit the measures as necessary and click Save…

and your changes will be saved:

Changes Saved Successfully.

All the foundational elements are in place.

  1. Our data has been loaded into the SAP Cloud Platform.
  2. We have establish a connection between the SAP Analytics Cloud and our data in the SAP Cloud Platform.
  3. We have created a model on top of our data.

So now is the fun part.  Now that everything is connected we can begin to slide and dice the data and get some insights.

Create a Story within the SAP Analytics Cloud

SAP Analytics Cloud allows you to consume interactive Analytic applications from the same interface that you use to create them.  Let’s create our first story by selecting Create > Story from the menu:

Creating a New Story

This will open up a story wizard.  You can selectd from existing template or start with your own blank canvas.  For this exercise let’s start with a blank Canvas by selecting Add a Canvas Page.

Create a blank page for your story

Next we will chose whether we want our page to be used for data exploration (data sources on the left) or for traditional Analytic elements.  In our case let’s select a chart so that we can begin to visualize our data.

Add a chart to your new story

Next, you will choose your data source.  We want to select the model (data set) to connect our chart to.  Let’s select Insurance.

Connect to our existing Insurance model

Next you will want to select Total_Cost as your measure:

Choose the data elements from the chart builder menu

Once you have selected the measure zzzTotal_Cost and Product_Line, the chart should appear like the one below.

Bar Chart with Total Cost by Product Line

The (+) plus button in the Insert menu above is where you can add additional elements to the canvas.  Feel free to play around and get comfortable with the Designer Interface.

Insert menu for adding additional objects

Once we have updated the canvas to meet our needs, we will want to save our story.  Click the save icon and give your story a name.

Save your Insurance Revenues story


Congratulations, you have created a story within SAP Analytics Cloud connected to a Live data source.  I encourage you to play around and get comfortable with the Designer.  One of my biggest challenges was overcoming my habit of constantly using right-click to to look for shortcut options because within legacy BusinessObjects the web interface still fully supported the right-click paradigm.

For more resources about learning to use many more capabilities within SAP Analytics Cloud, please check out these youtube videos.

Here is a story I created using the data we just uploaded.  It look about 10 minutes to create.

Finished Dashboard

I hope you find these blogs helpful in understanding how you can begin to get familiar with managing and analyzing your data within SAP’s cloud offerings.


Mike Flannagan shared his vision around SAP Analytics at Sapphire 2017 yesterday and the cloud was a cornerstone of his message.  This is the primary go forward strategy for Analytics for SAP so we should be expecting significant investment by SAP in the development of this solution over the coming months and years.

This solution is still in it’s infancy but SAP is well on the road to establish a strong offering for cloud-based analytics against any data source.

«Good BI»

Embracing the Cloud for Analytics – Part 2

May 18th, 2017 No comments

In the other two blogs related to this post series are here:

So now that you’ve got an SAP Cloud Platform account, we want to start uploading some data to it.

Although the SAP Cloud Platform provides a good web interface for connecting working with data in the cloud, my personal preference is to use the Eclipse IDE.  In this blog I want to show you how easy it is to set up the eclipse client so that you can access your HANA database in the cloud and start loading some data.

Installing Java and Eclipse for SAP Cloud Platform

I found that this handy video from Dan Grissom which walks through the configuration process for downloading and installing Eclipse on Windows 10.  It will automatically give us the latest versions of all the software.

It uses a website called Ninite which creates a custom installer for the products you wish to install.  This video will show you how to:

  1. Download and install the required Java JDK components.
  2. Download and install Eclipse.

If you would rather install the components manually, I recommend you follow this step by step tutorial within the SCN.  (Below I will pick up step 8 of the tutorial)

Here is a handy wiki page if you have challenges during the installation.

So now that we’ve got the Java and Eclipse components installed, let’s continue.

Configuring Proxy Settings in Eclipse

If you are running within a corporate environment, you may also need to configure proxy settings for Eclipse.  You can change your proxy settings by accessing Windows > Preferences.

This will open up the following Preferences Screen.. Under General > Network Connections you will find these settings.  You can also find it by typing “Network” into the filter/search bar.

Configure Your Manual Connection for your Corporate Proxy

Under Active Provider choose Manual.  Next select the first Schema HTTP and choose edit.  Add in the name of the host and port in the space provided.  Because I work at SAP, my settings are proxy 8080.

Set your Proxy Entries to connect through a corporate firewall

Choose okay and do the same process for HTTPS.

Once complete your settings should look something like this:

Confirm your settings for Manual

Once the proxy is configured you can switch back and forth between Manual (I’m in the office and need proxy) and Direct (I’m outside my proxy environment).  Now we are ready to install the SAP Cloud platform tools into Eclipse.

Installing the SAP Cloud Platform tools for Java

Choose Install New Software:

Help > Install New Software

and copy the following URL

into the software list.

Pull the SAP Cloud Components directly from SAP

From here you can choose to install as much software as you want but we only need the SAP HANA Cloud Platform Tools, so select this option and choose Next.

Select SAP Cloud Platform Tools

After accepting the license agreement, Eclipse will ask you to restart.  We’re almost done.

Download and install the SAP Cloud Platform SDK

Next, we need to download the install the SAP Cloud Platform SDK.  This can be downloaded directly from the SAP Cloud Platform Tools site:

SAP Cloud Platform SDK

The SDK comes in different flavors:

  • Java Web: Provides a lightweight runtime supporting a subset of the standard Java EE APIs (Servlet, JSP, JSTL, EL). Currently there is a 1.x version of this runtime available
  • Java EE 6 Web Profile: Provides certified support for the whole Java EE 6 Web Profile APIs. Currently there is a 2.x version of this runtime available
  • Java Web Tomcat 7: Provides support for some of the standard Java EE APIs (Servlet, JSTL, EL). Currently there is a 2.x version of this runtime available
  • Java Web Tomcat 8: Provides support for some of the standard Java EE APIs (Servlet, JSTL, EL). Currently there is a 3.x version of this runtime available

For our exercise we will select and download Java Web.

After it has been downloaded, place it into the appropriate directory. In my case I created a directory called, C:\dev\ and then extract the contents of the .zip file.  So my directory looks like this:

Extracted SDK

Next we will need to associate this Java Web SDK with Eclipse so the software components installed with Eclipse can access them.  Choose Window > Preferences.

Edit Eclipse Preferences

Choose Server > Runtime Environment. Click the Add… button to open the New Server Runtime dialog.

Select Java Web from the list of Environments


Scroll down and select SAP > Java Web from the list of Server Runtime Environment(s) and click Next.

Provide the folder to which you have extracted the SDK by clicking the Browse… button and choosing the respective folder, e.g. c:\dev\neo-java-web-sdk-1.127.11.

Select the SDK root directory

Click on Finish.

We have now installed the SAP Cloud Platform Tools for Java and are ready to start using Eclipse to connect to HANA within the SAP Cloud Platform.

Connecting to HANA

First, make sure your HANA instance is running in the cloud before you attempt to connect to it.   In my previous blog I shared that your trial HANA account is only allow the database to run for 12 hours before it is shuts down so sometimes you may forget to restart your HANA database when going into Eclipse.  To confirm your database is running, log into the SAP Cloud Platform via the web and check the database status.  Before you begin this step, confirm that you SAP HANA database is running by logging into your SAP Cloud Platform and verifying the status.  If necessary start the database.  (Remember to refresh the screen since the screen does not refresh automatically.)

Once you have confirmed your HANA instance is running, you can continue.

First let’s switch to the HANA Administrative Console Perspective within Eclipse by choosing:  Windows > Perspective > Open Perspective Other.

Select the Administration Perspective

From here we can add a new HANA system to our Admin Console.  Choose Add Cloud System…

Select Add Cloud System…

From here, how we fill out this section will depend on your account.

Landscape Host:  This is the URL of your SAP Cloud System.  To determine the user for your account, it should the root URL less the “account.” at the beginning of the URL.  For example:

  • Trial accounts ( would have a host landscape of
  • US Ashburn data center ( would have a host landscape of

Account Name:  This is the Account name associated with your username and password.  You can see this by logging into your SAP Cloud Platform account and looking at the menu bar.

  • Standard Trial accounts: pXXXXXXXXXX6trial, for example p1942629386trial
  • SAP Employee Trial accounts: iXXXXXXtrial, for example i817400trial
  • Non-Trial accounts can be anything, e.g. presales

Find the Account Name

User name:  This is the name you will use to access the SAP Cloud Platform.  This is typically the same name as the account name but without the “trial” at the end.

  • Standard Trial accounts: pXXXXXXXXXX, for example p1942629386
  • SAP Employee Trial accounts: iXXXXXX, for example i817400
  • Non-Trial accounts this is the name of the SubAccount.  for example b0b8e5ce5. Always check the subaccount information to be sure as in the screenshot below:

From with SAP Cloud Platform you can see these values

Password:  This will be the password you use to log into the SAP Cloud Platform.  If you are an SAP Employee and SSO is used to access the SAP Cloud Platform, you will use your corporate password.

Here is are two examples.  This is what an SAP Employee might see:

Example SAP Employee Setup

This is what other trial accounts look like:

Example Standard Setup

Selecting the HANA Database

Once this information has been entered correctly, you will be prompted to select the database, username and password.

  • Database:  Select the correct HANA database from the drop down.  In my case, my current HANA database is called demo.
  • Username:  This is the username for the HANA database.  This will typically be SYSTEM.
  • Password:  The password you assigned to the HANA database user.  This is typically the password for the SYSTEM user.

Now Enter the Database details

After your database is added, it will be added to the Systems list on the left.  In my case I added three different HANA instances from three different cloud accounts to my Eclipse environment:

Connections to 3 different cloud HANA instances

Loading Data Into HANA

So next, let’s get some data loaded.  One of the easiest ways to import data into HANA is to use a spreadsheet.

If you want to follow along using my dataset, you can access it here, Insurance Data.  Otherwise feel free to use your own data set. I should warn you that the HANA data import is not the most robust data import tool depending on what data formats you are using, etc.

To start the process, choose File > Import:

Select File > Import… from the menu

We want to import file data, so let’s choose Data from Local File from the list.

Scroll down to SAP HANA Content > Local File

Next select the name of the HANA System that you want to use to load the data:

Select the Target System for the data

Choose a local Excel file and load the data and specify the target schema and table name.  Here I am going to create a new table:

Importing the sample Insurance data

Click Next.

You may want to modify some of the data attributes since the import tool is making a best guess based on a sample of the data contained within the file.  For example I rounded up the text length of most of the fields and changes all the Decimal fields to Decimal(10,2).  We can adjust that here.

Here are some of the schema adjustments I made

Click Finish to begin importing the data.  After the load is attempted refresh the view on the left so that the new database you created will appear under Catalog > (Selected Schema) > Tables.  You can do this by right-clicking on the schema and selecting Refresh.

Right-click and choose Refresh

If the load was unsuccessful, then make the appropriate changes, delete the empty table and try the load again.  Most commonly there was a problem with the default schema that HANA used based on the data sample.  The Job Log window at the bottom of the screen will tell you whether or not the data load was successful.

Job Log provides a status

Once the load is complete, preview the data within Eclipse by right-clicking on the table and choosing Open Data Preview.

Here you can see the data you just loaded

We can begin to do some initial data quality checks.  Click on the Analysis table to switch to the Analysis view:

HANA allows you to analyze your data in place

Choose Analysis and drag Product into the Label Axis and Total Profit into the Values Axis.

Products by Revenue

Feel free to play around with the Analysis features.  They are quite robust and allow you to change chart types, add filters.  Here I switched to a bubble chart and updated the view to include  Customers by Customer Discount, Product Discount and Total Profit.

bubble chart

If you want to run some of your own SQL queries you can do that tool by right-clicking on the schema and selecting Open SQL Console from the menu option.  If you have more questions about how to use SQL with HANA, there are a series of great videos available here.


We completed the configuration of the desktop tools which provide us an alternative to the WebIDE experience that is available by default with the SAP Cloud Platform.  Eclipse is a terrific development environment for your Analytics team when it comes to managing and modelling your data within the SAP Cloud Platform.

Next we will want to connect our SAP Analytic tools to our data that resides within HANA and setup the automated ‘refresh’ of data from on-premise systems into the cloud.

«Good BI»




Embracing the Cloud for Analytics and Applications

May 16th, 2017 No comments

The other two posts following this introduction are here:


If you’ve been listening to Sapphire 2017 you couldn’t have missed the new launch of SAP Leonardo and over the last few weeks I’ve been getting my hands on it.

Why Leonardo?

As an Analytics professional I’m keen to create a frictionless environment that will allow me to quickly move my data to the cloud and connect to it using my Analytics Suite.  SAP has long supported the ability to either have SAP host your traditionally on-premise data and applications in the cloud via HEC (HANA Enterprise Cloud), but that’s not what we are taking about here.  I’m looking to move from a traditional on-premise mindset to a cloud-first mindset.  How can I used applications that are already hosted for me in a SaaS offering.

Enter SAP Cloud Platform – the underlying framework of Leonardo.

SAP Cloud Platform is the key strategic platform-as-a-service infrastructure that provides the framework for SAP Leonardo. Additionally, SAP Cloud Platform provides end-to-end micro services for machine learning, analytics, Big Data, security, user experience, user management, and backend integration application program interfaces.

Once I have my data in the cloud I can then connected to to the intelligence services available in SAP Leonardo.  Leonardo includes best-of-breed business services that enable users to rapidly build Internet of Things applications, create reusable application services, and apply predictive algorithms.   From a pure analytics perspective, Leonardo offers a subscription model in which I can extend cloud/on-premise applications, integrate with SAP applications and build new analytics applications.  Although I come from an on-premise perspective, it’s only a matter of time before most of the work we do is done through some type of SaaS offering with the ability to customize and tailor the solution to our needs. Change is hard but we each need to embrace it and the value proposition is there.

Subscription Based Value Proposition

Subscription pricing means you can:

  • Forego hardware and software procurement, annual maintenance fees and upgrades.
  • Acquire only the amount of software needed as opposed to traditional licenses per device.
  • Reduce and/or eliminate IT infrastructure salaries expenses for some positions related to ongoing system maintenance.
  • Implement quickly (No hardware, platform software or application software to install and limited configuration)

"If everything is under control, you're just not going fast enough." - Mario Andretti

So time to start moving!

Getting Started with a Free Account

Over the next few blogs I’ll share with you how to start using the SAP Cloud Platform.  There are a lot of good resources out there already but I will be approaching it from an analytics angle.  How can I as an analytics professional quickly load data up into the cloud and begin doing some visualizations?  The answer is very quickly.

The first thing you want to do is to sign up for an SAP Cloud Platform free trial.  It is super simple and you can do it in 5 easy steps the instructions are right here.

Once you have registered for an account and then activated the account via email you should see the following message:

Figure 1 – Activation Successful

Create Your Data Repository

Let’s jump in and create our first database for our data.

Note that there are existing Cloud Platform tutorials put together by the SAP HANA Academy; however they were recorded in 2014 and over the last three years the interface has changed pretty dramatically so I’ll help guide you through the process after you have signed up for your account.

When you log in for the first time, you will see this welcome screen:

2 – Leonardo Platform Home Page

Above you can see I have highlighted your account name in a red box.  This is how SAP identifies your specific tenant with the Leonardo Cloud.

The first thing we want to do is create a HANA database.  We will be creating a HANA database which has all the power of a regular HANA DB but comes with a trial size of 1 GB.  WARNING: Because this is a trial/developer account, the database will only run for 12 hours before it is shutdown.  Additionally if the database is not used for 14 days, then SAP will send you a couple of emails before they delete it in order to save resources.  Finally, you are only allowed to create 1 HANA DB.

Figure 3 – Click on Databases & Schemas

Next we will click on Persistence to expand the menu, then click on Databases & Schemas.  Next you will see a list of the current databases within your tenant.  The list will be empty.  To create a new database choose New and fill out the details as follows:

  1. Database ID: name of database here it is called “demo”
  2. SYSTEM User Password. (Must be 15 characters long)
  3. Click “Configure User for SHINE” on and enter a user and password (Must be 15 characters long)
  4. Turn the rest of the parameters ON

Figure 4 – Create Database

Click Save.  Next you will see the screen update and the message description will say your Database creation started.  Creation of the database will take about 5-10 minutes.

Navigating the Interface

There is a main menu (1) to navigate up and down the different services. A secondary menu on the left (2) is a contextual menu which changes based on where you are in the main menu.


As you click

Figure 5 – Menu Navigation

up and down the main menu, the contextual menu on the left will change accordingly.

Once the database has been created, we will want to jump up a level by click on the name of our database “demo”.

Figure 6 – Cookie Crumb menu to HANA DB

You should see now that the database has started.  If you are already familiar with HANA, you can see that at the bottom of this interface you can access your HANA Cockpit, Development Workbench.  Go ahead and access both the Cockpit and the Workbench.

Figure 7 – Access the HANA DB via the Administration and Developer Tools

SAP HANA Cockpit

This is where you administer your HANA environment.  You can add/remove users, add/remove permissions, import content, manage changes and many other things.  This is also where you could choose an automated upgrade of your HANA database when a new version comes out.

Log in using the SYSTEM username and password you defined when you created the HANA database.

Figure 8 – Login Screen to HANA

The first time you access the Cockpit, the system will realize that it does not have authorization Cockpit access configured for SYSTEM, so it will add the following permissions to your SYSTEM user automatically:  sap.hana.admin.roles::Administrator, sap.hana.ide.roles::TraceViewer, sap.hana.ide.roles::SecurityAdmin.

Figure 9 – The Cockpit provides access to key administrative controls

SAP HANA Workbench

This is where you manage all your HANA content – the catalog and the editor.

Figure 10 – Workbench WebIDE

Florian Pfeffer does a nice job of explaining the difference.  He describes it this way:

The Catalog View gives a view on the runtime objects of the database artifacts.
The first level you see under this view is the schema to which the runtime
objects are assigned. In case you create e.g. a table using DDL statement
CREATE TABLE you see created runtime object for the table under the schema
which was used in the statement (but the table is not visible in the Content view).

The Editor View gives a view on the design time objects of e.g. database
artifacts (and further static content) stored in the HANA repository
(therefore the objects are also called repository objects). Under the
Content View the design time objects are organized in packages (1 to n
levels). The activation of a design time object for a database object
leads to the creation of the runtime object in the specified database
schema. So if you create e.g. a table via an hdbtable artifact
(e.g. mypackage.test.TestTable.hdbtable) and activate it you can see in
the Content view the design time object "TestTable.hdbtable" in package
"mypackage.test" and in the Catalog view under the schema you defined
in the design object the runtime object "mypackage.test::TestTable".


Who knew installing and creating a new HANA database could be so easy?  No software to install.  Minimal configuration.

Although the overall size of this trial account limits our HANA database to 1 GB, it gives us a good introduction to what it’s like to run HANA in a SaaS landscape.

Next we’ll show how to configure configure the Eclipse IDE to connect to HANA running within the Leonardo Platform in case you’d prefer to interact with your database using a traditional desktop client.

«Good BI»

No Better Time to Upgrade to BI 4.2

February 13th, 2017 1 comment

If you are one of the SAP customers who is still running BusinessObjects XI 3.1, I would urge you to add an upgrade to BusinessObjects 4.2 into your immediate plans for 2017.  Although SAP has extended priority one support until Dec 2018, this should not mean upgrading your BI environment should be delayed.  As the software that supports your BI platform reaches end of life, you are putting your system at unnecessary risk.  In addition, understand that Priority One support is limited.  SAP will only develop XI 3.1 software for true production outages.  Specifically, this means there will be no bug fixes or new functionality developed for the platform (including possible issues with hardware).

What’s Stopping You?

If there is a reason why you cannot upgrade to BusinessObjects 4.1 or 4.2, SAP wants to hear from you.  Contact SAP or your SAP sales representative asap.  They can put you in contact with someone who can help you.

Need more help on how to prepare for an upgrade?  There are excellent resources available online as well such as the SAP BI Pattern Book – Upgrading from BOE XI 3.1 to SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2.  It’s a one stop shop guide of everything you need to know about upgrading your BI environment… check it out.

Is There Any Other Reason to Upgrade?

Yes.  There are a number of very important reasons for you to move to BI 4.2.   Aside from the additional business value you will undoubtedly realize due to the increased power of the BI Suite, you should consider the following:

  1. Connectivity: While I don’t understand your complete landscape, connectivity to new applications (BW/4HANA, S/4HANA, etc) and databases (upgrades) will likely cause you significant challenges.  The BI 4.2 is highly integrated to all SAP platforms and supports all modern databases.  If you check the BusinessObjects XI 3.1 Product Availability Matrix, you will see it does not support current databases or applications.
  2. 32 bit vs 64 bit code line: Is 32 bit really getting it done for you these days?  If your reports get too large, it’s possible for your reporting processes to crash because they run out of memory.  Administrators often have to optimize system loads to overcome this issue.  If you move to BI 4.x, you can take advantage of the 64 bit architecture, which allows you to use modern database drivers the best possible performance.  As your needs for Analytics continue to grow, so will the amounts of data you need to process through your BI system.
  3. Operating System Support:    I’ve been supporting BusinessObjects environments for many, many years.  Over and over again I have seen the operating system present a significant challenges to the administrator when their BusinessObjects system gets too old.  I remember when organizations did wholesale retirements of Windows Server 2000 and Windows XP.  Customers were stuck on BusinessObjects XIR2 and couldn’t get client tools to run on the Windows Vista or Windows 7.  Suddenly the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude became a huge fire drill as administrators were forced to draw up emergency plans to tackle these incompatibilities.

And Then There’s Java

How much longer is your IT department going to allow you to run software with a Java Plug-in?  If you using all the features of WebIntelligence then it’s also likely that you are familiar with the need to use the Java Plug-in to leverage some of the capabilities that WebIntelligence offers.  Two years ago you may have seen this security article discussing the challenges that come with Java.  There were several security breaches associated with Oracle’s JAVA plug-in and fake installation websites.  With BusinessObjects 4.2 SP4, organizations can be completely free from the Java Plug-in.

Don’t wait!

There are more resources than ever to simplify the process.

These pattern books are a great start.  You can begin planning immediately for your system upgrade so you can begin taking advantage of the latest innovations from SAP while making sure you are not taking unnecessary security and reliability risks with some of your companies most important assets — the system that provides the critical insights they need to make decisions everyday.

Did I mention all the new capabilities in BI 4.2?  How much time have you got?  😉

«Good BI»